Tel Aviv Airport, known locally as Ben Gurion International Airport, is the main hub for almost all international flights arriving to or departing from Israel. Located near the Israeli city of Lod, it is about a half-hour drive from Tel Aviv and 45 minutes from Jerusalem.
In terms of area Ben Gurion is the largest airport in the world. Most flights arrive to and depart from Terminal 3, which was renovated in 2004 and features extensive duty free shopping, banking and currency exchange services, a post office and dining area. Flights to Eilat leave from the much smaller Terminal 1, where passengers of some low-cost European airlines, such as EasyJet, also go through the check-in process before being transported to Terminal 3 for boarding.
Sde Dov, a smaller airport in North Tel Aviv, is also a hub for flights to and from Eilat. Some flights from Europe use the airport as well.
Ben Gurion applies the most stringent security standards of any airport in the world, with uniformed and plain-clothes police, border patrol guards and military personnel stationed throughout the premises and a sometimes-exhausting passenger screening procedure in place that can test your patience.
On your arrival to Israel, the process is fairly similar to those of most major airports. However as you exit your gate, there will be two security people at the top of the escalator who may ask you some questions, and when you go through passport control, the attendant may ask you more questions than you are used to. Sometimes visitors are taken to a separate area for further questioning.
When you leave Israel, be prepared to answer a lot of questions about your time in Israel, who you are traveling with and where you are traveling before you check-in for your flight. Security personnel may also take you to a private area for more extensive questioning or ask you to empty the contents of your luggage as part of the screening process.
Whether or not you are subject to a more intensive process is mostly luck of the draw. As such, it is advisable to arrive for check-in three hours before your boarding time. (Note: El Al passengers have the option to check their bags a day before their flight and arrive at the airport an hour-and-a-half before boarding.)
To and from
If you have a car, the drive from Ben Gurion to the center of Tel Aviv is about a half-hour (20 km) via Highway 1.
Without a car, the best, fastest and cheapest way to travel between the city of Tel Aviv and the airport is via train. A ticket costs about 15 ILS, and t is about a 10 minute journey to Tel Aviv HaHagana, near the central bus station, and nominally longer to other stations in Tel Aviv and Herzliya. However, the last train to the airport leaves around 23:00, and the last train from the airport is at around midnight. If you arrive late or have a flight that leaves early, your only choice is a private taxi.
The Ministry of Tourism advises visitors to only use taxi companies licensed by the Israel Airports Authority upon their arrival. A cab can be arranged through on-site dispatchers outside of Terminal 3 (to your left when you exit the arrivals hall). Prices from the airport are posted but are subject to additional fees between 21:00-05:30.
From Tel Aviv, prices vary and start at 100 ILS during the day, but again are more expensive between 21:00-05:30.
Taxis also charge extra fees per piece of luggage.
Sde Dov can only be reached by taxi or private car.
Airport Licensed Taxis Hadar Lod (all parts of Israel)
All companies have a counter in the Terminal 3 arrivals hall. After you’ve completed your arrangements there, pick-up is on Level G of the parking lot opposite the Terminal.
Most companies accept rental returns in a designated area near Terminal 2 and offer free transportation to your departure terminal. It can be a bit confusing to reach, but there are signs throughout the airport to direct you there. If you didn’t get a chance to fill up your gas tank on the way, there is a gas station inside the airport premises.
Flying to Eilat
While most people choose to either rent a car or take the bus to travel to Israel’s southernmost city, several Israeli airlines IsraAir and Arkia offer flights to and from Ben Gurion (Terminal 1) or Sde Dov. One-way tickets range anywhere from $25-$100.
Important Contact Details
El Al Phone: *2250
Ben Gurion Airport
International Airline Companies with Offices in Israel Air:
Air Canada Phone: +972-3-607-2111
Phone: + 972-3-606-1555
United Airlines Phone: + 972-3-511-6777
Phone (International): 1- 800-241-4141
Phone: + 972-3-510-4044/5
Phone: +972-3- 517-2333
Phone: +972-3-6903712 or *5758